The Consumer Category
We bring you the chic and unique, the best and most bizarre shopping offers both online and offline. We offer you tips on where to buy, and some of the less mainstream and crazy, individual and offbeat items on the internet. Anything that can be bought and sold can be featured here. And we love showcasing the best and worst art and design.
THEY’RE whining about how train fares are going up again: and as usual, they’re managing to get entirely the wrong end of the stick. Here’s their complaint about fares:
Rail fares are rising so quickly that the government will soon be making a profit from the commuting public, campaigners claimed as the new year ushered in higher annual season ticket prices.
According to a report from the consultants Credo, for the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), by 2018 the fares collected from passengers will cover 103% of railways’ operating costs, compared with 80% in 2009.
There is a very slight problem with this analysis: operating profits are not profits. Operating profits are the costs of goods sold minus the costs of goods purchased. If you thought about Sainsbury’s for example, then it would be the cost of everything they sell minus the costs of buying the things that they sell. And the perceptive will note that those aren’t all the costs of running a supermarket. It’s necessary, for example, to have buildings in which to operate the supermarkets. Vans and trucks to move the stuff around. To pay for advertising to get people to come in and buy the stuff.
THE International Order of The Golden Rule is a funeral homes organisation based in Austin, Texas. On their website filed under “history”, they tell us:
To a group of funeral directors in 1928, the “Golden Rule” – a fundamental principle that is universally admired and upheld – became the cornerstone upon which to built a professional association.
The founders embarked on a mission to seek out a dependable, ethical funeral directors in every community by means of a carefully tested screening process. They wanted to establish a quality-minded identity in the minds of families everywhere. The Golden Rule credo – “Service measured not by gold, but by the Golden Rule” – speaks to that identity.
Each Golden Rule® Funeral Home must show a commitment to provide to their client families: “Service measured not by gold but by the Golden Rule.”
So. What is the Golden Rule? We never do get to nail it down. Under “STandards of Ethical Conduct”, we get not one rule but 10 rules. We also see their name printed on this booklet called “How To Tell Good People From Bad People”.
ETSY seller DMAGIC has created this wondrous Steve Buscemi Christmas Candle:
CAN YOU GUESS which Victoria’s Secret models come from 1984 and which are from recent catalogs? I’ll give you a hint: the ones from 1984 resemble actual human females.
THE Nelson Mandela keep-fit tribute video:
As many of you might know, this week we lost one of our favorite son’s here in South-Africa, Nelson Mandela.
So I decide to go and shoot a workout video in a very special place to pay our respects to this great man!
DOLLS die in Xochimilco, Mexico.
They’re in the trees and on the ground, bunched together on wooden fence posts and hanging from clotheslines like laundry left to dry. Their dead eyes stare at you from half empty sockets, their dirty hair hangs like cobwebs. Their skin is scabbed and peeling away, and their plump limbs are scattered everywhere—arms and legs strewn about haphazardly, decapitated heads impaled on stakes.
This is not a nightmare. It’s La Isla de las Muñecas, a real place located in a southern borough of Mexico City, on a man-made island, which for decades has been home to hundreds of dilapidated dolls.
The island was once the property of Don Julián Santana, a local farmer. Legend has it that in 1950, he saw a little girl drown in the canal and her spirit began haunting the place.
MY Little Pony filth has nothing on this kind of cryptozoological smut. E’ve shown you dinoraur erotica before. Now Business Insider says Amazon is looking to ban “monster p*rn” e-books. Anyone read Cum for Bigfoot? Some of you have because author and mum-of-two Virginia Wade* says that 12,000-word tome earns her $30,000 a month.
For those of you versed in Wade’s works:
An idea to write a campy, teen horror-fest, with a Sasquatch protagonist, led to the creation of Cum For Bigfoot, which is essentially a series of stories spanning several years in the lives of a tribe of Bigfoots and their human lovers. The silliness, the romance, and the sex struck a chord with readers, who enjoyed the adventures of Porsche, Shelly, and Leslie, while the kidnapped teens came to love their hairy abductors. The series is now on its fourteenth installment, with more to follow.
How can Porsche leave all of this behind and return to civilization? When she’s in the arms of her Sasquatch, warm and snuggly in his matted fur, the only thoughts going through her mind are of utter bliss. But challenges abound for the star-crossed lovers, including Leonard’s head injury, a devastating wildfire, and a sexy forest ranger named Mike. Will these obstacles shatter the growing love between an ape and its mate or will true love triumph?
Read the rest of this entry »
J.G. Ballard on boredom and the death of imagination:
THESE are the Library Rules of the Insane Asylum of California (1861):
1. The Library of the male department shall be under the charge of the Supervisor. Every volume taken therefrom shall be charged to the borrower, except for the use of the patients, when it shall be charged to the Attendant, into whose ward it is taken, who will be responsible for its being used with ordinary care and returned in proper time.
2. If a volume shall be lost or destroyed, by any patient, the Attendant, having charge of the patient, will report the fact to the Supervisor, and, if practicable, exhibit the fragments. If lost or destroyed, by any other person, it must be replaced.
3. No one will be permitted to take from the library more than one volume at a time, or to keep a volume more than two weeks, without permission from the Superintendent or Assistant Physician, except Bibles, Testaments and Prayer books placed in the hands of the patients for daily reading.
4. The Supervisor will be responsible for books taken from the library and not charged.
5. The Library of the female department will be under the charge of the Matron, who, in its management, will be governed by the above rules, prescribing the duties and responsibilities of the Supervisor.
THE late Keith Moon was once asked whether he thought he was the greatest drummer in the world, he replied: “I’m the greatest Keith Moon-style drummer in the world”, and no one can argue with that. However Moon is just as famous, even today, for packing in far more than his fair share of convivial nights during his short eventful life. He died in September 1978 just two weeks after his 32nd birthday when he fell unconscious, never to wake up, in the Mayfair flat of his close-friend Harry Nilsson. Coincidentally, it was the very same bed where Mama Cass Elliot had died four years earlier.
WE’VE entered a strange time for films. Films everyone can remember first time round are being remade, Ryan Reynolds is still getting work and, weirdest of all, films are being made based on toys.
Now, of course, action figures and the like have ended up on the silver screen, but the Rihanna-starring ‘Battleship’, based on a coordinates board game, flummoxed everyone. What next? Well, to save us all from a ‘what’s next – [insert ludicrous 'Monkey Tennis' idea here] joke’, we’ll cut to the chase.
Candy Crush, that’s what.
SPOT the difference. Dante’s Hell vs Boxing Day at Westfield.
There are nine more differences….
LYDIA Estes Pinkham made “women’s tonic” to relieve menstrual and menopausal pains.
In 1875, Lydia Estes Pinkham reaction to straightened times by creating tonics for “all those painful Complaints and Weaknesses so common to our best female population”.
The original recipe for Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound is as follows:
Unicorn Root (Aletris farinosa L.) 8 oz.
Life Root (Senecio aureus L.) 6 oz.
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa (L.) Nutt.) 6oz.
Pleurisy Root (Asclepias tuberosa L.) 6 oz.
Fenugreek Seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) 12 oz.
Alcohol (18%) to make 100 pints
Church of England Supports Marks & Spencer Sharia Checkouts But Not Christians Refusing To Serve Halal
THERE has been something of a furore over Marks & Spencer’s announcement that henceforth Muslim staff on their checkouts will be permitted to decline to serve M&S customers who purchase alcohol or pork, writes Cranmer. That is to say, M&S customers will either be asked to queue at a checkout where the employee does not object to serving kuffar (however much longer the queue), or they will have to wait while M&S find a member of staff who is prepared to serve you.
THIS is how you cover up an old tattoo:
NEW York’s Glen Hanson gives hope to your tired, mildewed bathroom. We’re talking sho0wer curtains: those dank, cold-to-the-touch, unusually stained nylon bath drapes that harbour several new strains of e-Coli and an axe murderer. But mo more. Shower curtains are now portals to a dimension of star-speckled glamour and Divine’s trailer:
THE financial markets have been waiting for this for some years: for Apple to sign up with China Mobile to take the iPhone. The importance of it is that China Mobile is the last major airtime provider around the world that doesn’t currently carry Apple’s products. And with 760 million subscribers that’s a hell of a market that Apple is missing out on. The deal has finally happened:
IT’S inarguable that Christmas has snowballed into a giant hulking materialistic bezerker over the past few decades. However, it wasn’t all poinsettias and candy canes back in the day either. I’d like to highlight just a few things that are perhaps better nowadays…
1. No More Christmas Tree Flocking
If you have a vacuum cleaner attachment specifically for purposes of flocking, there’s a very good chance you’ve taken holiday tackiness to new heights.
FUNNY foods: Crabnobs from Norway:
Or, as they say, Royal Crabnobs…with cheese?
“I HAD completely forgotten about Halloween. We heard a group of children in the road and we turned the lights off,” says Tina Thompson, 69, a former Mayor of Wandworth living in Stoneleigh, Surrey.
“Just to make sure I had not gone completely mad I took this saucer next door to show my neighbour. They were still glowing the next morning when I went down to Waitrose. I took them down in a box and said ‘if you go into a dark room you will see they are glowing’.”
Waitrose says the glow could be the result of Pseudomonas fluorescens, a harmless bacteria. She wondered if the glow was from radiation leaked into the sea by the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
TIME magazine’s Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer received a phone call from a Samantha West. The caller wanted to talk about Scheree’s health insurance.
He asked is she was real? She replied: ”I am a real person, can you hear me okay?” The staffers called Samantha back:
She failed several other tests. When asked “What vegetable is found in tomato soup?” she said she did not understand the question. When asked multiple times what day of the week it was yesterday, she complained repeatedly of a bad connection
Madame Arcati’s Six Best Books of the Year 2013
Who isn’t trying to flog a book these days? Independent publishing is fracking vast quantities of creative gas long ignored under our nose. Kindles everywhere are growing slow on free and cheap literary downloads, perhaps one day to be read when the kids or pets have flown and the only alternative to a heart-warming phone chat with one of Esther Rantzen’s Silver Line Friends is that book you meant to read 20 years ago.Excellent books are there to be found, and here’s Madame Arcati’s brief guide to the six best this festive season (all titles hyper-linked to Amazon):
Madame Arcati’s Most Excellent Book of the Year
A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof by Roger Clarke
Divine, darling. Or, as Craig Revel Horwood might say if not too busy eyeing up male dancer buttock curvature, ‘fab-u-larse!’ Published last year, the paperback released a few weeks ago, this is by far the most fascinating survey of paranormal sightings and encounters I have ever read.
Ingenuity starts at concept stage. Clarke sets out not to debate whether ghosts exist. He is much more interested in the anthropology of spectral experiences and research – or put another way, in relating true-life ghost tales, the ‘scientific’ attempts to understand them and in classifying the different types of spook: elementals, poltergeists, etc.
This is clever and fortuitous because Clarke knows he’d lose most of his mainstream critical audience if he entertained the notion, even for a moment, that ghosts exist as sentient post-mortem entities. One feature of secularism and atheism is the absolute conviction that life starts and ends with synaptic crackle ‘n’ pop. But there’s no question people have ghostly liaisons. I have seen a ghost. You probably have. Pliny wrote of a haunted house in 100 AD. The materialist will flesh out any unscientific explanation-away provided no concession is made to afterlife drivel. The winner is not rationalism but a replacement irrationalism.
Clarke knows all this as a veteran Poirot of psychical inquiry. So instead he sits us down by a log fire, creeps us out with weird tales, documents the countless vain attempts to solve the mystery of hauntings and treats the topic (of ghosts) as an aspect of immemorial human experience.
Clarke writes tremendously well – an essential component of any effects-driven tale both to satisfy the Bunsen burner know-all and trembly Susan Hill addict. The slightest hint of irony here and there gives sceptics their calorific fill while oo-ee-oo narrative pleases the rest of us. He is unafraid of the plodding nature of prose, the focus on patient set-ups – Gore Vidal called this vital writerly process ‘grazing’. The cow’s temperament is vital to story-telling.
I also commend Clarke’s end notes which combine scholarly learning with a sly sense of humour. At the very least you end up sceptically well-informed and enthralled.
Madame Arcati’s Most Promising Foreplay Read of 2014
The View from the Tower by Charles Lambert
One of the joys of reading is the foreplay. Before immersion I like to examine covers, read blurbs, savour hints in reviews or previews, gaze at the author pic (if any), perhaps tantalise myself with a glimpse of the first and last pages (I am intolerant of sequence and secrets – no author will control moi). Charles Lambert is new to me, I have not read his fiction yet; but we are engaged in foreplay (one-sidedly I hasten to add). I am sampling his work at present. I intend to go all the way with his novelThe View from the Tower, published on 2 January 2014.
This is the second in a Rome-set trilogy, so really I ought to consummate with the first in the series,Any Human Face (published in 2011). ‘A dark and fast-paced literary thriller about love, sex, art and death,’ is the terse description. I have the book in front of me. On the cover, a slim man in a black suit gazes warily up an ancient alleyway. An old-style pale blue motor scooter before him startles the period monochrome. Is the man hunting or being hunted? I don’t know.
I may read Any Human Face first. It has Malaysian nuns killing time at a second-hand bookstall – a sufficiently kinky observation to grab my attention. I suspect Lambert notices much that is surprising. I can smell his curiosity and his taste for the perverse.The View from the Tower is ’a psychological thriller about love and betrayal, and the damage done when ideals and human lives come into conflict.’ But I suspect it’s rich in peculiar detail, too. That’s what I want. Isn’t foreplay fun?
Madame Arcati’s Best Poppet Book of the Year 2013
Sleeping With Dogs: A Peripheral Autobiography by Brian Sewell
I just know I would hate art critic Brian Sewell in person. That face, fixed in a state of appalled shock. That voice, strangled to last-breath whine by an odd form of hostile genteelness – the sharp chip in the Whittard of Chelsea teacup rim. In death his visage will slowly, ineluctably draw into one final pull of grotesque disapproval, perhaps impossible in life, now achievable by the new physics of rot. Not even Tracey Emin’s art could trigger such a look.
Yet even a glorious c**t has his good side. Should you have a tail, a long tongue and a readiness to shit in public – Brian’s all yours. Preferably, you will not bore him with actual speech but simply advertise your wants with a growl and a howl. Brian has loved 17 doggies and there’s little they can do to sour his canine fetish. One bark and I’m already thinking of RSPCA extermination. But Brian loves the constant music of dog – and the relentless me-ism, the diva presumptions, the bad breath and foul turds. Why, he has four dogs at a time in his bed.
Brian is probably correct in thinking that dogs share with us the same range of emotions, hence the peculiar show that is Crufts. What perhaps he adores about them is their immediacy and lack of guile, that unmediated need for a cuddle and a scoff and walkies that requires nothing more from us than basic delivery followed by unconditional gratitude (the dog’s).
How can one fail to be ensorcelled by evidence of the total collapse of Brian’s default snobbery and disdain in the presence of his best friends? Meanwhile, dog walkers should continue to place street dog turd in plastic bags. Such sights please me no end.
Madame Arcati’s Most Wondair Book of the Year 2013
The Mitford Girls’ Guide to Life by Lyndsy Spence
I reviewed this delightful book back in August (clickhere) and am not in the least surprised at its success. It’s quirky, quintessentially English (which is odd because Lyndsy is Irish – I think), a guide and etiquette book of sorts but also a wallow in 20th Century interwar eccentricity. Daffy is another word that comes to mind.
Lyndsy has gutted the lives of the Mitford girls and turned them into parables, bullet point social codes and how-to guidance to live this life successfully. From Unity’s fixation on and pursuit of Hitler we learn: ’Don’t rush head first into an encounter with your idol as this will label you as another fan. Edge your way in slowly and discreetly.’ This example does raise a question over the precise location of Lyndsy’s tongue at times (in cheek, perhaps?) but there is sufficient quantity of information on the Mitford lives to reassure on overall deadpan purpose. Certainly I learnt a great deal more about the Mitties.
Lyndsy Spence is an author to watch. She is very young – and driven by a passion for old school glamour and style. Not only has she founded The Mitford Society with a large following but she has found time to release the first of the The Mitford Societyannuals which comprises many features and essays on the aristocratic clan. One piece is authored by me – I take you to the Arcati Horoscope Revue Bar where we learn more about the astrology of the gels as stripper potential is appraised. It’s all done in the best possible taste.
Madame Arcati’s Most Peculiar Novel Award 2013Death Flies, Missing Girls and Brigitte Bardot by Kenneth George King
Quite the oddest book I ever did read is this outré and outrageous nugget which bears the name Kenneth George King. Call me a spoilsport but one may as well know that the author is Eurovision’s very own bastard son and general vile perv, Jonathan King – the man who gave us Everyone’s Gone To The Moon. This fact alone will cause certain flowers to wilt. But hardier annuals and the odd cactus or two will be rewarded in their staying power. By the end of this book you will be dreaming about flies, naked boys and sex stars and other causes of ruin. JK has well and truly gone over to the surreal side – and the result is something most interesting.
Now that we live in a world of Twitter and gnomic ejaculation, King has produced what seems like a cut-up novel thrown together kaleidoscopically for attention deficit consumption. This is not quite Burroughs cut-up style but the many autobiographical bits strewn through the narrative have a snip-snip-paste quality. We learn quite a lot about prisons, Arab straight boys who like homosex, Barbara Windsor, a bit about Bardot of course and her right-wing husband, and, oh, glam hot places where JK goes for his hols. And about police procedure.
But what’s it all abaht? Well, yes. Good question. There is indeed a car accident in Morocco. And girls go missing in England, as the blurb promises. A killer lurks and plots and an old ‘superb’ detective sniffs. Flies offer clues of sorts. Different voices tell us what they see and do, not all of their perspectives entirely relevant; but always fascinating. That’s what it’s all abaht.
We are told on the cover that the novel has been submitted for the Man Booker Prize 2014. If an astrology novel can win, so can this.
Madame Arcati’s Novella of the Year 2013You’re Never Too Old by Fiona Pitt-Kethley
The world could do with a few more Fiona Pitt-Kethleys. Here’s a woman who could give Boudicca a run for her money. I love her poetry. I adore the stories about her. Non-payers will soon discover what I mean. You cross Fiona at your peril. She lives in Spain with her chess champion husband and family and cats. She cooks.
Here’s the thing about her very short novel, available only on Kindle at 77p. It’s not about James Bond – it can’t be because the Ian Fleming estate wouldn’t permit it. No siree. No, let’s get this straight. It’s not about Bond, James Bond. It’s about James Round – a retired spy. The sort of ‘feisty oldie’ Fiona worships. Perhaps Round sees himself as a latter-day Bond. We all have our dreams. In another universe I’m a pop star. Friends with Michael.
Anyway, Round is ancient. He’s stuck in some cold hovel in Scotland. He longs to get back to his old life of action, double agenting and leg-overing nubile pin-ups. A chance meeting re-opens up his life and before you know it he’s on a spying mission to a spa in Israel with senile drunken secretary Penny. Oh the fun we have. Round ain’t passed it. It’s treble dry Martinis all round.
I love Pitt-Kethley’s droll, throw-away humour, the teasing satire and the hopeful moral for the silver surfers. Saga magazine should serialise this tale. You’ll smile and you’ll laugh.
THE current top bid for a George Zimmerman original painting is US $97,700.00. That’s the same Zimmerman who shot dead Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager. And walked free from court. A jury acquitted him of second-degree murder and of manslaughter charges.
Now he’s famous.
WHAT’S THE POINT in taking a look at 1970s sofas? Sure, it sounds like an antiquated and mundane topic on the surface, but sofas are a reflection of the culture. You can learn more about the 1970s by looking at its sofas than you can from a history textbook. Simply put, sofas are where humanity gathers. It’s where families spend most of their time together, where man and woman interface, where much of daily life takes place.